Dust-covered and weary from travel, Portillo and In-and-Out pushed on throughout the day, reaching Holdermayo at dusk. After stopping at a tavern for a quick meal, the two continued on towards the White Castle. They halted their mounts before the guard house.
“State your business!” said the Captain of the watch, sauntering out and eyeing the two strangers with suspicion.
“We need to speak to the King,” Portillo replied. “It’s urgent!”
“It’s always urgent,” scoffed the Captain. “Be off with you!”
“Sir,” said In-and-Out, “the boy is quite right. We bring important news from the south. The King needs…”
“I said, be off with you!”
“If you could just hear us out…” In-and-Out tried again.
“No one sees the King at this time of the evening!” Roared the Captain; then after a pause, he added, “Unless of course you have committed a crime. In which case, you will be brought before the King to be judged.”
“I see,” In-and-Out mused. “And how quickly is a criminal brought to justice once a crime has been committed?”
“Why, immediately,” replied the Captain. “The Burger King takes great pride in dispensing speedy judgments.”
“So, theoretically,” continued In-and-Out, “if a crime were to be committed, say…now, would the accused see the King tonight?”
“That’s right,” The Captain nodded.
“Hmm…fair enough,” calmly replied In-and-Out. Then he punched the Captain in the face.
“Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t throw all of you into prison for bothering me at this hour of the night,” yawned the Burger King as he slouched on this throne.
“This villain hit me!” The Captain grumbled from the non-swollen side of his face.
“Only because we needed to see the King immediately,” retorted Portillo.
“Well, that makes sense,” the King replied sarcastically. “You wanted to see me, so naturally you beat up my watchman.”
“Sire,” the Captain mumbled indignantly, “I was not beaten up. I was merely struck while my guard was down.”
“Admitting that your guard was down is not the sort of thing that inspires confidence in my Captain of the watch.” At this, the Captain had the good sense to look humble.
“Your highness, Wendy is in trouble!” Portillo finally blurted out. This got the King’s attention.
“Wendy? What has happened to her?” Portillo then related the story of Little Caesar’s plot, the kidnapping of Wendy and his friends, and his own near capture on the road to the White Castle.
“This is outrageous!” Yelled the King, echoing his son’s response to the news. “I will mobilize the army at once!”
“What are we going to do about Wendy?” Asked Portillo with some urgency. Just then, a man wearing glasses and a green shirt hurried into the throne room and approached the King.
“Jerrod,” said the King, addressing the messenger. “Have you brought news from my son?”
“I have,” replied Jerrod, handing over a scroll. The Burger King unrolled the message, read it quickly, and let out a small sigh of relief.
“Well, here is a bit of good news. It seems that Wendy managed to escape her kidnappers and made it all the way to Hardeeshire! She warned Prince Carl and he is assembling troops in the south.”
“That Wendy is somethin’ else! Is there anything she can’t do?”
“Yes,” replied the King with a twinkle in his eye. “Stay out of trouble.”
Wendy stared into a fenced-in yard full of chickens.
“I don’t get it,” she said, turning to Colonel Sanders. “I thought you were going to show me your secret weapon for winning the battle.”
“And so I am, Darlin’,” the Colonel replied proudly, waving an arm toward the mass of clucking poultry.
“But,” Wendy said dubiously, “they’re chickens.”
“Not just any chickens, my dear,” continued the Colonel, unfazed by her doubts. “These are highly-trained birds of war!”
Wendy looked back at the pen just as a large hen near the fence relieved itself and then walked unconcernedly through the mess.
“These,” explained Colonel Sanders, “are members of an elite air strike team: Chicken Fighters in Local Airspace, but we call them the “Chick-Fil-A” for short.”
“But they look ordinary.”
“Ah, but we have a special diet that we feed the chickens prior to battle. You wouldn’t think it by looking at them now, but these beauties are capable of wrecking havoc on any invaders.”
“A special diet? What do you feed them?”
“I’m afraid that is top secret,” said the Colonel with a mysterious smile. “We don’t want this information getting to the wrong sorts of people.”
“It isn’t spinach, is it?”
The Colonel’s mouth fell open.
“Wh…What?” he stammered in shock. “Why did you…? How did you…?”
“I met someone in Port Plees-Comagin who said he fed his chickens with spinach, and they grew really strong.”
Colonel Sander’s face went from shock to a stony look of disapproval.
“Tell me, Wendy, honey,” he said gravely, “this person that you met. Was he squinty-eyed, smoking a pipe, and wearing a sailor suit?”
“Yes! That’s Popeye! Have you met him before?”
“I have,” replied the Colonel icily, “but I have not seen him in many years. You see, his real name isn’t Popeye. It’s Beauregard. Beauregard Sanders…and he is my son.”